Twins' Denard Span feeling good, and Ron Gardenhire wants him in CF
Get the 1500 ESPN SportsWire delivered to your inbox daily, and keep up with all the news in Twin Cities Sports
MINNEAPOLIS -- Denard Span says he feels the best he has in two years and will be ready to go when the Minnesota Twins open spring training next month.
If he's right, there's no doubt in manager Ron Gardenhire's mind about Span's role.
"He's going to lead off and be my center fielder," Gardenhire said at the Twins' annual media luncheon on Friday afternoon at Target Field.
"That's my expectation. If someone were to tell me he's not able to do that, then we'd have to adlib. But if Denard comes in healthy, he's my center fielder. There's no questions to me about that."
Span was limited to 70 games last season by the aftereffects of a concussion he suffered on June 3 at Kansas City and other symptoms, including migraine headaches, that mirrored the ailment that plagued him during the 2009 season.
The 27-year-old spent the offseason adjusting his diet, working out and trying to get over concerns about the latest head injury of his young career.
"I can't sit up here and say every day has been a hundred percent awesome day," Span said. "I have days, just like even if I didn't have a concussion history -- everybody has days when they just don't feel that great. I'm trying to learn how to deal.
"I think a lot of it's mental, too, at times, trying to deal with deciphering whether it's a concussion or if it's just me maybe not getting enough sleep or just not having a good day. I have had some days when I don't feel the best, but I get through it."
Asked if he remains cautious about pushing himself too hard, Span said, "I wouldn't say cautious. I'm just ready to get out on the field, man, and test it out. Last year was definitely a tough year for me -- a tough year for the team in general, but one of the most depressing and tough seasons for me personally. I'm just ready to get out there and put it behind me and look to 2012."
Gardenhire ruled out the possibility of moving Span to make room in center for Ben Revere, even though Revere played well in Span's absence last season and has superior range.
Instead, Gardenhire said, the plan is to have Revere being the primary left fielder with Trevor Plouffe perhaps splitting time based on matchups -- "not a platoon, but a possibility of getting (Plouffe) some playing time out there and all those things."
On advice from a specialist, Span gave up caffeine for the offseason, went on a regimen of dietary supplements and spent a month on a special diet. But he acknowledged he can't be sure his issues are in the past.
For now, he's focused on getting to Fort Myers a couple of days before position players are due to report on Feb. 23. And if Gardenhire has a change of heart about his position, Span said, he'd be open to do what's best for the Twins.
"I've thought about it," Span said. "It's one of those things where everybody knows I waited a long time to play center field. I'm very passionate about it. There's a piece of me out there in that area. But at the same time, if it's going to help us win ballgames, I'm willing to do that. I'm willing to pull myself and my pride aside and help us win."